Top 7 Steps to Take If You’re a Victim of a Dog Bite

Being bitten by a dog can be a traumatic experience, leading to physical injuries and emotional distress. Knowing the appropriate steps to take immediately following a dog bite can significantly impact your recovery and your ability to seek compensation for your injuries. This article outlines the top seven steps you should take if you are a victim of a dog bite.

1. Seek Immediate Medical Attention

The first and most crucial step is to seek immediate medical attention, regardless of the severity of the bite. Dog bites can cause deep puncture wounds, tearing of the skin, and, in some cases, nerve damage. Moreover, dog bites can lead to infections due to bacteria present in the dog’s mouth. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 18% of dog bites become infected with bacteria such as Capnocytophaga, Pasteurella, and MRSA.

Why It Matters:

  • Infection Prevention: Immediate medical care can prevent infections, which can be severe and require intensive treatment.
  • Documentation: Medical records provide essential documentation of the injury, which is crucial for any legal action you may take later.

2. Report the Incident

Report the dog bite to your local animal control or police department. This step is vital for public safety and ensures that the incident is officially recorded. Animal control will investigate the dog’s vaccination status, especially for rabies, and check if the dog has a history of aggressive behavior.

Why It Matters:

  • Public Safety: Reporting helps prevent future incidents by ensuring that potentially dangerous dogs are monitored or removed.
  • Official Record: An official report supports your claim and may be necessary for legal proceedings.

3. Gather Information

Collect as much information as possible about the dog and its owner. This includes the owner’s name, address, and contact information, as well as details about the dog, such as its breed, size, and vaccination history. If there are witnesses, get their contact information as well.

Why It Matters:

  • Legal and Medical Follow-Up: Having detailed information can aid in medical treatment decisions and support any legal claims you may pursue.
  • Proof of Incident: Witnesses can provide statements that corroborate your account of the incident.

4. Document Your Injuries

Take photographs of your injuries immediately after the bite and throughout the healing process. Documenting the injuries with photos and notes about your pain levels, treatment, and recovery can be powerful evidence in a legal case.

Why It Matters:

  • Evidence: Visual proof of your injuries can substantiate your claims and help your case if you decide to seek compensation.
  • Insurance Claims: Detailed documentation can expedite insurance claims and ensure you receive appropriate compensation for medical expenses and other damages.

5. Consult a Dog Bite Lawyer

Consulting with a lawyer who specializes in dog bite cases can significantly enhance your chances of receiving fair compensation. A qualified San Diego dog bite attorney can help you navigate the legal complexities, negotiate with insurance companies, and represent you in court if necessary.

Why It Matters:

  • Legal Guidance: An experienced lawyer understands the nuances of dog bite laws and can provide valuable advice and representation.
  • Maximized Compensation: A lawyer can help ensure you receive compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other related expenses.

6. Follow Up on Medical Treatment

It’s essential to follow your doctor’s advice and complete all prescribed treatments. Attend all follow-up appointments and keep detailed records of your medical visits, treatments, and any ongoing symptoms.

Why It Matters:

  • Health Recovery: Proper medical care is crucial for full recovery and preventing complications.
  • Legal Documentation: Consistent medical records are critical for demonstrating the extent and impact of your injuries in any legal or insurance claim.

7. Understand Your Rights and Legal Options

Educate yourself about your legal rights and the options available to you. In many states, dog owners are strictly liable for injuries caused by their pets. Understanding the specific laws in your state can help you determine the best course of action.

Why It Matters:

  • Informed Decisions: Knowing your rights empowers you to make informed decisions about pursuing legal action or settlement negotiations.
  • Legal Strategy: Understanding the legal landscape helps you and your attorney develop a robust strategy to achieve the best possible outcome.


Dog bites can have serious physical and emotional consequences. Taking prompt and appropriate action is essential for your health and legal rights. By seeking immediate medical attention, reporting the incident, gathering information, documenting your injuries, consulting a lawyer, following up on medical treatment, and understanding your rights, you can protect yourself and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2021). Preventing Dog Bites. Retrieved from
  2. American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). (2020). Dog Bite Prevention. Retrieved from
  3. Insurance Information Institute (III). (2021). Dog Bite Liability. Retrieved from
  4. American Bar Association. (2020). Dog Bite Liability and Laws. Retrieved from